Environmental Management Board May Authorize Discharge to Wetlands and Isolated Waters Under Proposed Rules | News

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RALEIGH — State environmental managers can create a permit system to authorize the dredging and/or dumping of fill material in wetlands and isolated waters, including those in Carteret County.

The NC Environmental Management Commission will meet online via Webex at 9 a.m. Thursday. In addition, EMC’s advisory committees will meet Wednesday at 9 a.m. Meetings are open to the public, and interested attendees from Carteret County and beyond can find links to join these meetings at deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/water-resources/water-resources-commissions /environmental-management-commission/emc-meetings-and-agendas#january-12-13-2022-meetings.

According to the EMC meeting agenda, the panel will receive a hearing officer’s report on proposed permanent rules for discharges into federal non-jurisdictional federal wetlands and federal non-jurisdictional classified surface waters. , as well as rule changes for discharges to isolated wetlands and isolated waters. The committee can approve the report and adopt the proposed rules.

According to the Hearing Officer’s report, the proposed rules follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s April 21, 2020 review of the definition of U.S. waters.

“As a result…a subset of wetlands classified under state law are no longer subject to federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction,” the report said. “To provide a regulatory mechanism to allow impacts to wetlands that are no longer under federal jurisdiction and to provide regulatory certainty, temporary rules were passed by EMC and approved by the Environmental Review Board. rules (NC) in May 2021.”

The temporary rules are due to expire on Tuesday, February 22. The proposed permit system would provide permits to allocate wetlands and waters up to 0.1 acres connected by non-jurisdictional channel crossings to navigable waters.

State officials received public comments from September 22 through December 22. 1, 2021. Proponents of the rules endorsed the 0.1 acre threshold and felt regulatory certainty was important; they also stated that wetland functions are critical to North Carolina’s health, flood resilience, coastal seafood, fishing, tourism, and recreation. Although the proposed system does not stop the effects on wetlands and isolated waters, proponents said it would mitigate them.

However, not all commentators were in favor of the proposed system. Opponents questioned the authority of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to adopt the proposed rules and the need for a definition of isolated wetlands.

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email [email protected]; or follow us on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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